Ever-evolving and experimenting, Ikea has lately started testing some surprising new business models: renting out and buying back their own furniture.
The buyback experiment, being tested in Japan, is in part an effort make the store more environmentally friendly, since Ikea would recycle furniture that might otherwise go into a landfill. The rentals are also designed to appeal to more commitment-phobic customers who might not be ready to drop hundreds of dollars on a couch or a bed. Both initiatives re-envision the lifecycle of Ikea furniture as a loop rather than a static straight line.
Ikea chief executive Jesper Brodin, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, discussed these tests as part of a more eco-conscious business approach that also benefits customers. “If the last decades were about mass consumerism, now we are getting towards mass circularity,” said Brodin, who also shared that Ikea is investigating new cellulose materials for more eco-friendly products.
“You build in an economic incentive, you build in a consciousness with consumers that they don’t have to own it, but own this collectively in the world and recycle it.”